The World’s Best Hotels

The era of anything-goes, unverified hotel reviews is over—at least, according to a new survey. A poll conducted by CivicScience asked 1,789 U.S. adults about which online sites they used to find lodging advice, and TripAdvisor, Google, and Trivago ranked lowest of all. That’s probably good news for travelers, who can now feel confident in their choice of lodging based on honest, trustworthy recommendations from people like themselves.

But how do you know which hotels to trust? While user reviews can be helpful, they’re also a minefield of fakes. It’s possible that a disgruntled former employee might post a scathing review of a property, or that some sites allow anyone to make an evaluation even if they haven’t stayed there themselves. There are also reputation management operatives working for hotels who spend tens of millions of dollars to boost their reviews, or “shadow” competitors, in order to lower theirs.

Luckily, some of the best hotels have been able to carve out their own space away from the chaos of the internet. The best hotels in the world have real-life hospitality teams and managers who understand that the most important aspect of a hotel experience isn’t the number of stars on a shingle, but rather the level of service guests receive during their stay.

The top hotels offer a variety of options to suit every traveler’s needs, from a cozy, affordable budget pick to an extravagant oasis. For example, in India, the hoteliers who made our list of the world’s best hotels provide rooms that will make you want to go back and visit again, whether you stay at a fort-like palace or a tent that doubles as an art gallery.

A few of our favorite properties include the century-old Plaza, which is synonymous with New York luxury. While it’s been through a number of renovations, the opulence still stands: Think marble bathroom fixtures and a Rolls-Royce waiting to drive you around town, plus 24-hour butler service.

Another New York standout is the opulent Carlyle, which has been a Manhattan landmark since its 1930s origin. While its decor has been influenced by a few design trends over the years, the rooms are still grand and timeless—think original hardwood floors, warm European furnishings, and Kiehl’s amenities.

For those with more modern tastes, there are some great new hotels in the city, too. The swanky, sleek Pendry on the western edge of Manhattan is a perfect example: An oasis of blond wood, its interior ripples like a wave, and guest rooms feature curved windows, Fili D’Oro linens, and bathrooms stocked with bath products by MiN.

If you’re looking for a little less luxe, the tony Upper West Side is home to a few of our favorite hotels in the city, including the 250-room Lucerne, with its warm European decor and traditional attentive service. The Upper East Side is also close to many great kid-friendly attractions, as well as some of the city’s best restaurants.